3 Days in Budapest Itinerary (For First Time Visitors)


Are you planning to visit for 3 days in Budapest? Here's a detailed itinerary that will take you to some of Budapests finest attractions.

Are you planning to visit for 3 days in Budapest? You’re in the right place! Budapest is one of my favorite cities in Europe, and I’ve spent numerous occasions in this city exploring and making my way around it, inhaling its beauty and grandeur.

If you’re a first time visitor, don’t fret – this Budapest itinerary is tailored specifically for you as I made sure that after 3 days in Budapest, you’ll feel so connected with the city as if you spent a long time in it.

Things to remember before following this itinerary

  • This itinerary is a full three days excursion! Meaning, you’ll be walking a lot the whole day so be prepared for it
  • Download Budapest city in your Google Maps, so you can navigate your way around it effortlessly using your phone’s GPS
  • Bring a refillable water bottle with you. With all the walking you’ll do, you would need to hydrate!
  • Make sure to bring really good and comfortable walking shoes. Again, you’ll be walking a lot between attractions
  • Bring snacks with you (you can buy it when you get to Budapest)
  • If you’re coming in summer, make sure to bring sunglasses, a hat, and anything you’ll need to protect you from the sun
  • If you’re coming in autumn, bring a light jacket as it can get chilly at nights
  • If you’re coming in winter, make sure to dress properly – read our winter packing list for more information on what to bring or our post on how to dress for winter. Budapest winters aren’t that harsh, but it is good to be prepared for the cold!
  • If you’re coming in spring, a light jacket would be essential and, if you have hay allergy, bring some antihistamine with you!

Read also: Tipping in Budapest (How Much Should You Tip)

When is the best time to visit Budapest for three days?

This really absolutely depends on you! Budapest is a great city to visit all year round without a doubt, but if you’re not looking into squeezing in between the mass tourists who flood the city around its peak time, which is usually during summer, then I suggest you visit during the off-season.

Off-season in Budapest is usually any season before or after summer. December could be a busy time for this city as well for its Christmas carnivals and festivities, but it won’t be as much as during the summer season.

Read also: Top 15 of the Most Visited Tourist Attractions in Europe

How to get around Budapest in these three short days?

I know that 3 days in Budapest is not a lot of time and perhaps you’re thinking, what could be the best and fastest way to see the city in that amount of time. Well, I’m glad to let you know that Budapest is a walkable city and it is also bicycle-friendly!

Honestly, the few times I’ve been to Budapest, I just literally walked around with no problem. As long as you are in very comfortable clothing, this should not be a problem.

Most attractions in Budapest are all within walkable distance, so there’s no need to worry if you’re wondering you won’t have enough time to see it all.

Read also: Top 12 Best Day Trips from Budapest (Hungary)

The main idea of this Budapest itinerary

If you don’t know yet, back in the days the now capital of Hungary was divided into two different cities – Buda and Pest. Although now it is a combined city that is famously known as Budapest, you can still easily distinctly see the differences between the once two areas.

In this 3 days itinerary in Budapest, it is all about “divide and conquers” to save time and to make sure that you get to experience and see all the great things this city can offer.

The idea looks like this:

  1. Explore the Buda side of Budapest
  2. Explore the Pest side of Budapest
  3. Go on a thermal bath spa, explore the Jewish District, and go on a food tour

It is straightforward and fun! So, get your comfy shoes on and head out exploring Budapest using this handy itinerary!

Read also: Top 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary (For First Time Visitors)

Day 1 in Budapest: Head over to the Buda side of Budapest

Now, depending on where you book your hotel (most people stay at the Pest side of Budapest, here are some of the best hotels in Budapest) the walk to the Buda side might sound far but honestly, if end up staying near Andrassy Avenue, it takes about 30 minutes to walk to Buda castle on the Buda side. It is a really good morning exercise!

If you start your day early (around 8.00 AM), there will be fewer tourists, and you get to see the beautiful view of the Parliament building from the Szechendyi Bridge without all those flying selfie sticks!

Read also: Top 8 Best City Breaks in Europe (That are Worth Visiting)

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Fisherman’s Bastion

Start your day by exploring Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a bit towards the north of the Buda castle. I suggest that you walk your way up here first so it would be easy for you to explore the rest of Buda without going south to north and then to the south again.

Fisherman’s Bastion is a famous monument located in Buda Castle and a good place to visit if you want to see a panoramic view of the Danube and the Pest side of Budapest.

Read also: Europe Holidays: Top 10 Awesome Destinations for Holidays in Europe

Matthias Church
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via Wikimedia Commons

Matthias Church

After looking at the fine view of Pest from the Fisherman’s Bastion, walk south to Matthias Church, which is also in the Buda Castle.

Known for its Neo-Gothic architecture, Matthias Church is one of the top attractions in Budapest you must not miss. It is a grandeur and an absolute gift for the eyes to see.

For the longest time, this church has seen many newly appointed Hungarian Kings as it is the main church where most of them got coronated. Check out what is also inside and see its unique interior and stained glass windows.

Read also: Secret Destinations: Top 13 Natural Wonders of Europe You Must Visit

unesco world heritage sites in europe buda castle budapest hungary
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Buda Castle

After exploring the northern part of the castle district, head back down to Buda Castle and explore its grounds.

Located in the Castle District of Budapest, Buda Castle is a world heritage site and the face you’ll see after crossing the famous Chain Bridge from Pest.

It is a beauty to look at filled with history you might be interested to know about. You partake in an informative walking tour to know more about its story.

If you’re not keen on walking all the steps leading to the castle, you can also ride one of the oldest funiculars in Europe that will take you from the grounds of the castle to its main area.

Read also: Summer in Europe: Top 14 Best Summer Destinations in Europe

Labyrinth of Buda Castle, Budapest
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via Flickr | Dimitris Kamaras

Buda’s Cave

If you’re interested in labyrinths and caves, the newly opened Buda’s Caves is located under the Buda Castle, and you can explore its dark alleys to know more about the area and what they are used for back in the centuries.

This man-made cellar used to be a battle bastion and storage facility back during World War II.

Read also: Top 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Citadella Budapest
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via Wikimedia Commons

Citadella

Walk towards the south, and you’ll hit Citadella. It is not that far from the Buda Castle, and you certainly will not miss it. It is still part of the Castle District, but you must not miss this!

A fortification located at the top of Gellert Hill, you’ll find this stunning Citadella. It was used as a fortress to protect Budapest from possible attacks. It also posts importance in the city’s military history.

If you want to learn more about all the attractions in detail, read our things to do in Budapest travel guide where I have written a more detailed explanation about Buda’s Citadella and other attractions mentioned in this post.

Read also: Top 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Liberty Statue in Budapest
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via Flickr | Filip Maljković

Liberty Statue

Also known as the Freedom Monument, this famous attraction is located at Gellert Hill. Erected in 1947, Liberty Statue signifies all the lost souls who sacrificed their lives in order to find peace and freedom for Hungary.

The statue is a woman holding her arms above her head, holding a palm leaf, and it delivers a powerful message to the public that now, Hungary is an independent country free from the Soviets and communism.

Read also: Top 11 Beautiful Castles in Hungary

Day 2 in Budapest: Explore the Pest side of Budapest

After exploring the Buda side of Budapest, it is now time to find out what Pest might offer! Honestly, it is breezier to explore Pest as it has a flat surface unline the hilly Buda, so there won’t be a lot of upward walking around here.

Pest is more of the creative and innovative side of Budapest, and here you’ll find all the hip things to check out. Buda is more of the boujee side of the city, and it has all the luxury hotels, fancy restaurants, and where more upper-class citizens reside.

Read also: Spring in Europe: Top 15 Spring Destinations in Europe

Budapest Hungary
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Hungarian Parliament Building

Walk towards the river, and you’ll find this ever-famous architectural marvel, which also is the Hungarian Parliament Building. You’ll start your day 2 in Budapest from here!

Located in Kossuth Square by the banks of Danube, the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the world-famous attractions in Budapest and sees a lot of tourists flooding around its grounds year after year.

Also famous for its distinctive architectural design, it is hard to say pass on this one as up close, and you won’t really miss it as it is still the largest building in Hungary.

Read also: Winter in Europe: Top 21 Winter Destinations in Europe

Shoes on the Danube Bank Budapest
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via Wikimedia Commons

Shoes on the Danube Bank

Along the banks of Danube, you’ll find one of the saddest displays there is. The Shoes on the Danube Bank is an odd installation, but it is a memoir of the Jews who were killed during WWII.

It is easy to find this memorial as it is just right beside the Hungarian Parliament House. When you get here, you’ll also have a beautiful view of the Buda side and as well of the Danube River.

Note when you’re here, please pay a little respect as this is a place of sorrow, and the whole intention of the whole memorial is to pay respect.

Read also: Christmas in Europe: Top 15 Ideas for Christmas Holidays

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St. Stephen’s Basilica

Your 3 days in Budapest is now filled with amazing context as you have explored some of the notable attractions in the city. Now, head over a bit to the northern part of the inner city quite close to Andrassy Avenue, and you’ll find the ever so famous St. Stephen’s Basilica.

A famous Catholic Church named after and in honor of the first king of Hungary, King Stephen. Originally built as a theater back in the 18th century, it is then later on petitioned to be transformed into the church we know it is today.

Apart from it being a spectacular architectural marvel, there is one thing that makes this church interesting for the mass public, and that is the fact that the right hand of the former King Stephen of Hungary can also be seen here (it is kept in a reliquary).

Read also: Top 25 Best Cities in Europe to Visit

Great Market Hall Budapest
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via Wikimedia Commons

Central Market Hall

To end your day 2 in Budapest, make your way down to the inner city to the west near the Danube river and find your way to the Central Market Hall.

You can explore many things in here apart from its stunning building that houses some of the Hungarian food stalls inside. You can either explore around here and walk around the area or grab something to eat – your choice!

If you want to learn what would be the best Hungarian food to try around here, you can check our Budapest food guide.

Read also: Top 20 Cheap European Holiday Destinations and Countries to Visit

Day 3 in Budapest: Thermal bath spa, Jewish Quarter, and food tour

3 days in Budapest will surely go fast, and upon exploring all the famous attractions in the city, I’m sure you’ll be exhausted! On day 3 in Budapest, it is all about spending your day relaxing, having fun, and eating good food.

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Thermal bath spa

Budapest is known for its Thermal Baths, and for a good reason – it is considered beneficial for health and is utterly relaxing.

Thermal Baths are not only famous for the tourist but has also been enjoyed by locals for centuries. However, depending on which day it is, most baths have separate times for men and women, so I highly suggest you check this if you would like to visit one with a friend or partner during your visit.

We recommend you to visit Széchenyi Baths as it is one of the famous Thermal Baths in Budapest.

Make sure to come as early as they open to avoid a flock of tourists and dress appropriately.

Read also: Street arts in Europe: Top 10 Best Cities in Europe For Street Arts and Graffiti

Street food at a festival in Budapest Hungary
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via Wikimedia Commons

Go on a food tour

After your very relaxing morning in the Thermal Baths, it is now time to explore Hungarian cuisine in Budapest!

Hungarian food is one of the underrated cuisines in Europe, and you’ll know this once you start tasting them as it is very rich, hearty, and tasty. By booking a food tour, you’ll have the chance to sample several dishes in one go, so you don’t have to eat a whole dish yourself!

Here are some of our recommended food tours in Budapest:

Check out this Food Tour in Budapest

→ Enjoy this 4-hour Dinner Walk in Budapest

→ Explore Food culture of Budapest on a Food and wine tasing tour

→  Discover Hungarian cuisine in a unique way! Try the street food and Craft Beer Experience in Budapest!

Check this 3 Hour Ruin Bar Walk-in Budapest!

If you’re not interested in going to food tours, we have a list of the best restaurants in Budapest you can check out!

Szimpla Kert ruin pub Budapest Hungary
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via Wikimedia Commons

End your night with cocktails at Szimpla Kert ruin pub

End your 3 days in Budapest right and enjoy a few cocktails and drinks over at any ruin pubs in the Jewish Quarter!

If you’re not familiar with what is a ruin pub, it is basically a ruined shack turned into something creative. The story behind Budapest’s ruin pubs was exactly this.

After the war, part of the city was abandoned because it is wrecked beyond repair, but there are few buildings that still show possibilities. So, the creatives of the city decided to transform these ramshackle into something “cool” turning these ruins into pubs. Hence, ruin the pub.

It is an interesting experience, and you’ll see a lot of quirky stuff! So, after your food tour, I think it is just fair to end your day and your visit to Budapest with few drinks in one of its iconic ruins pubs called Szimpla Kert.

Do you more than three days? Explore more of the city and read our full things to do in Budapest post.

Check out these activities in Budapest

 

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